Anybody here know of a quick way to search the files in your computer for a specific word? I wrote a word down in a Excel spreadsheet cell. I can not remember the file name nor the sheet inside the file. I need to search all Excel files for a specific Text entry. Help please?

This won’t be very helpful.

There are file editors like UltraEdit that allow you to search groups of files, including subdirectories, for specific byte strings. However, most of these tools’ searches are ASCII text based, whereas Excel (and all the other MS Office products) store text as 16-bit Unicode, which allows many more characters to be represented than ASCII. Also, starting with Office 2007, all data files are compressed so a text search on those files will fail anyway because file data are mangled by the compression process.

Your best bet will be to locate all the Excel files on your PC via a Windows search (find “.xls” or “.xlsx” if it’s Excel 2007 or 2010). If you remember more or less when you last edited the spreadsheet you’re looking for, the file’s creation and/or last modification timestamp may be helpful in narrowing down the search. You can see these details by selecting “View” → “Details” from the Windows Explorer menu bar.


When you say “your computer” I take it you mean “your Windows computer”. If that is the case, I can’t help you. If, on the other hand, you mean “your linux comnputer” or even “your UNIX computer”, then you could use locate, or beagle, or catfish, or any of about a dozen other tools developed for the purposes of indexing and searching your drives.

Windows Search (in Vista and Windows 7) will search the content of Word and Excel files.

Since I haven’t really looking at it in detail before I did a bit of testing with Excel files and it will only search text on the first worksheet of a workbook.

I don’t think the standard search on XP did it properly (you could choose to search contents, but I think it looked at it text wise and didn’t interpret the document).

You can install Windows Search on XP, but in my experience it bogs down older machines.

Here is a page that explains the advanced syntax for Windows Search.

Haven’t tried it myself, but perhaps it’s useful to you:

in my layman experience, i just do a search with a wildcard. thus, your wildcard will then be a *. so, if you are searching for a random xls file, then you will search *.xls. it will bring up all the xls files on your machine.
the same if you are googling a company’s email addies to mail-bomb them. search *
et violla!!